Saturday, 21 April 2012

#152 Wyrd - Huldrafolk

Wyrd are a Finnish black-metal band of which I've heard a few songs over the years, but haven't until now gotten around to listening to an entire album thereof. Their sophomore album, "Huldrafolk", is the one which sticks in my mind as the album which I was first introduced to the band with, and as such, seems the place to start now, in terms of  listening and reviewing.

Wyrd's sound is rooted deeply in the forest which it's artwork portrays, with wide-open, hypnotic black-metal with a bouquet of folk mixed in. At the time that this album was made, Wyrd was a one man band, with Narqath recording literally all of the instruments himself, but the sheer musical diversity of the album really breaks down the one-man band stereotype. The drums are real, as of course, are the guitars and bass, but what really impresses me is that the variety of folk instruments used, if I'm not grievously mistaken, most of them are real, not provided by keyboards or synthesisers. While the rough production makes the folk instruments more ambivalent than they might be in a cleaner-produced record, they still sound fantastic in the tracks in which they are present, perhaps even more so for being a bit raw, giving them a charm which might otherwise sound plastic. They sound, for want of a better expression, earnestly and honestly used. It's very, very refreshing, for instance, to hear an accordion which natural, which isn't present in a gimmicky way.The folk-side of the music doesn't dominate the sound either - it balances well with the raw, hypnotic black-metal riffing which is taking place around it, and the album as a whole is as enjoyable for it's caustic heathen feel as for it's folk-imbued epicness.

The forested feel of the music is often emphasised in the softer sections of the album, where the shimmer of birdsong, or the sound of a woodland stream is often sampled, giving the album plenty of moments of tranquillity. In "Misanthropes Masterplan" halfway through the song, the music makes the switch from black-metal to ambient, with really creates an island of peace on the album, and adds even more variety. When it bursts back into black-metal, as intense as ever, the many-layers in the music feel even more apparent, with so much going on in the music that you have to really concentrate to focus on any single aspect individually. The albums range is staggering. Chants, at least half-a-dozen different instruments, ambient parts, samples, a sound which ranges from soft and beautiful to heavy and in many cases equally beautiful, and also range from predominantly black-metal, to being inclined quite towards folk. Somehow, all of this manages to conglomerate into one album with a unified feel, which is all the more rewarding to listen to for it's variety. The drums may not be perfect, and the production may be raw, but it still sounds great, because this is definitely an album on which the music is greater than a sum of it's instruments.

Wyrd seem somewhat underrated, which is a real shame - The band generates a unique atmosphere and Huldrafolk should, by all rights, be considered a modern-classic black-metal album. Wyrd is but one of many projects Narqath is involved in, and listening to this album has certainly urged me to listen to more, not only of Wyrd's material, but Narqath's projects in general.

This is a 10/10 album.

Wyrd Official Site
Wyrd on Metal Archives